The Vampire Squid of Questionable Journalism Swallows Matt Taibbi

FILED TO: Editor's Picks

Matt Taibbi is one of the best writers about politics, the media, and finance on planet earth right now. When I say that, I don’t mean that everything he writes is particularly revealing or that every one of his pieces can legitimately be called a journalistic triumph, but if the goal of being a writer is to effectively draw mental pictures with words and to entertain the reader, there’s nobody better than Taibbi. He’s smart, daring, and viciously funny, which is all you can really ask of writer who spends most of his or her time in the stupid world of U.S. politics and economics.

I started reading Taibbi back when he was still writing for the New York Press, an alt-weekly that admittedly could never quite compete with the Village Voice and which ultimately was forced to fire Taibbi when he wrote a 2005 column skewering the media’s fawning coverage of the impending death of Pope John Paul called “The 52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope.” Even before that was Spanking the Donkey, a book of Taibbi’s columns collected from his time on the road covering the 2004 presidential election. Its high points involved Taibbi joining the Bush campaign office in Orlando and dropping acid and dressing up as a gorilla to do an interview. If you haven’t read it, you really do need to.

Since those days, he’s of course gone on to become probably the most ferocious documenter of the sins and excesses of Wall Street’s various asshole masters of the universe anywhere in the world of journalism. A lot of the stuff he’s written as a contributing editor at Rolling Stone has been essential to understanding just how badly firms like Goldman Sachs played the American public and eventually sent the entire global economy into a death spiral in the name of raking in billions in profits. But now, maybe unfortunately, Taibbi will be moving on — to First Look Media.

Pierre Omidyar’s $250-million venture — which so far lured the likes of Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Jeremy Scahill to its gold-plated shores — announced yesterday that Taibbi would be joining it as an editor of a news magazine, like Greenwald’s “The Intercept,” that will focus strictly on financial and political corruption. While this is certainly a giant shot of journalistic adrenaline into the heart of First Look, only time will tell whether this move will be a boon to Taibbi or will hopelessly marginalize him. Remember, Glenn Greenwald is nominally one of the journalistic managers at First Look and it stands to reason that if he’s allowed authority over Taibbi in any way, even though the two see eye-to-eye on many issues, Taibbi’s work could suffer greatly. Taibbi’s always aligned himself with the Greenwald/Scahill crowd, so this move shouldn’t come as a surprise; Greenwald probably began trying to entice Taibbi away from Rolling Stone as soon as he came onboard First Look. As expected, he’s helping to staff the place with people who can co-exist with him in terms of their anti-establishment bona fides.

The problem here is two-fold. One is personal for Taibbi in that, no matter how much money Omidyar is pouring into First Look, Rolling Stone is a bigger, more powerful, more prestigious platform. Simple as that. But the second part of the equation goes back to the Greenwald issue, one I’ve written about before. I can break it down in terms of being a television news producer. When I was first starting out I was considered a hell of a producer, and so somebody thought it was a good idea to make me a manager, since that’s how upward mobility among TV production people works: you’re a good producer and that must mean you’ll be a good manager. Except it doesn’t always work like that. I failed miserably. That’s because there’s a difference between somebody who digs and scraps and fights from the trenches and somebody whose job it is to make sure those digging and scrapping and fighting from the trenches do their jobs correctly. Just because you’re successful as the former doesn’t mean you’ll be equally successful as the latter. It’s the same in print: Journalists who are tenacious need equally tenacious editors willing to push back against the tendencies — and biases — that may trip them up. Taibbi is always giving shout-outs to his editors at Rolling Stone and the ways they make him better as a journalist and occasionally save his ass, sometimes saving him from himself. This could mean he’ll be an excellent editor of his own work — if in fact he’s still writing and not simply curating material for his new online magazine — but it can also mean that he’ll suffer from the same problem Greenwald already suffers from: autonomy.

Greenwald’s never understood that those managers and editors at The Guardian who wanted to stand in his way when he was pushing for the initial Edward Snowden documents to be published immediately were actually doing him a favor. They were protecting him — and the paper itself. In Greenwald’s mind, these kinds of hedgers and naysayers simply interfere with the relentless pursuit of the pure journalism he practices. The reality is anything but that. Taibbi’s a far better journalist than Greenwald could ever dream of being, but a journalist’s published or aired work is really only as good as those above them willing to put their methods and conclusions through the wringer and see if they come out okay on the other end. Sometimes journalists can become so focused in their beliefs and so unrelenting in their approach, convinced the trail they’re on is the right one, that they can lose focus. And that’s why there are people above them to correct their course. We’ve heard a lot about the high-powered frontline hires of First Look, but not as much about the people behind the scenes — other than executive editor Eric Bates, who’s already shown that he’s little more than a mouthpiece for Greenwald and the First Look entity itself, someone it’s tough to imagine presenting much of a challenge to Glenn the Great and Powerful. And that has the potential to be an issue, because the personalities at First Look — Taibbi included — aren’t the type to easily be corralled and subdued when necessary.

Personally, while it’s easy to understand why any journalist would make the jump to a place where he or she will be given an unprecedented amount of latitude to pursue the subjects they’re passionate about, I think Taibbi deserves a better platform than First Look Media. Certainly one with less of a tainted, self-marginalizing journalistic pedigree going in. It would be great to think that he’ll bring First Look Media up to his level and add credibility and prestige to their journalism, but I fear it’s more likely that First Look Media’s stridently niche journalism will bring Taibbi down to their level.


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  • FlipYrWhig

    I think Taibbi is a good writer of creative nonfiction — I’ve used the Goldman Sachs piece in teaching — but I don’t think he’s a particularly good journalist, insofar as that involves fitting together pieces and only going as far as those pieces can take you. Like Greenwald, Taibbi tends to like to find big, coordinated malefaction. And the antics and gonzo affectations, like gorilla suits, are annoying.

    Unlike Greenwald, though, and to his credit, at least Taibbi doesn’t always do the bit where “there can be no other possible explanation than mine and if you disagree in any way it proves you have been coopted by the same sinister forces I’m fighting bravely and selflessly to expose.”

  • mrbrink

    I think the title says it all. Taibbi’s bounced around, and they probably need him more than he needs them. It’s a good get and it gives them some credibility on the mean streets of suburbia, but if his columns ever contain the phrase, ‘at least Rand Paul is consistent’ or some weak variation, I’ll consider it a betrayal and a libertarian coup. But he’s always done his own thing wherever he’s been. Looking forward to continued criticism of David Brooks and Jamie Dimon five days a week.

  • Rob

    Who remembers when Matt got award from the Democratic Socialists Of America WAAAY back on June 11, 2011? LOOK IT UP.

    • Lady Willpower

      I feel like you have Toccata in D Minor playing as you’re typing. Is this supposed to be scary news?

  • Barbara Striden

    One thing that may sustain Taibbi is the fact that he has a sense of humor; in this regard, he’s Greenwald’s polar opposite. I’ve also thought of him as having a pretty ferocious bullshit detector; I’d like to think that he’s naturally inclined to apply it without regard to ideology, but we’ll have to see.

    When I think of Greenwald being a manager, I’m reminded of what the owner of the Yankees said to Babe Ruth when the Babe begged to be the team’s manager: “You can’t even manage yourself; how would you be able to manage 25 other men?”. Think of the typical Greenwald blog post; chaotic, disorganized, often two, three or four times longer than merited by the content, emotionally unhinged in language and tone, and appended with enough frantic “updates” to make the post’s original point some sort of distant, irrelevant memory. Hell, Greenwald’s psyche is so disordered by bile and rage that he probably couldn’t manage to write a coherent, twice-a-week column for a small-town newspaper.

    • CL Nicholson

      One thing that may sustain Taibbi is the fact that he has a sense of humor; in this regard, he’s Greenwald’s polar opposite. I’ve also thought of him as having a pretty ferocious bullshit detector; I’d like to think that he’s naturally inclined to apply it without regard to ideology, but we’ll have to see.

      Taibbi is able to keep a sense of humor because unlike Greenwald, he doesn’t think he’s Moses coming down from Mt Olive with stone tablets etched by lightning. He realize his job is to ultimately inform, not proselytize. I don’t always agree with Taibbi but I’ve never walked away from a column feeling uninformed. GG’s columns are almost always sermons – and from a guy who spent a lot of time in churches, they’re pretty crappy ones at that.

    • merl1

      Greenwald doesn’t believe in using two words when he can use 2,000. I can’t read the long winded bastard for that reason.

    • nevilleross

      To me, Greenwald sounds a lot lime P.J. O’Rorke.

  • Trulyunbelievable2020

    First Greenwald gets the Polk award and now this! It’s almost as if other respected reporters think that he’s a decent journalist. But we all know that that’s impossible, since he often puts details in a different paragraph than Bob Cesca would like.

    • ak1287

      Wouldn’t be the first time a group of ‘respected’ journalists have been wrong.

      Also, I don’t think anyone should get a free pass for putting the most pertinent information at the bottom of an article.

    • Lady Willpower

      What you’re describing is the least of Greenwald’s flaws as a writer.

      • Trulyunbelievable2020

        Good point. I forgot about that time that Greenwald lied under oath to Congress. Or that time that he defined “imminent” to mean “the opposite of imminent.” Or that that time that he defined “militant” as “all military aged males killed in drone strikes.” Or that time that he publicly claimed that drone strikes hadn’t killed any civilians.

        Oh, wait. Wrong guy.

        • Lady Willpower

          STRAWMEN ARE GO!!

          • Barbara Striden

            Given Greenwald’s obvious affection for America, why wouldn’t we be content to have our government’s approach to national security reflect his attitudes and ideas? He is the quintessence of vigilant loyalty.

          • neonnautilus

            This is snark, right?

      • Axomamma

        His biggest flaw is that he’s an asshole. And sensitive to boot. Try pushing him a little bit on twitter. He’ll ban you faster than you can refresh the page.

  • repugnicant

    I was seriously disappointed in Tiabbi when I heard the news. Why any journalist, seeking to stay above the fray and be taken seriously, would attach themselves to the likes of Greenwald is beyond me. Money? Editorial freedom? Only time will tell. When I saw Scahill on Real Time, regardless of the subject, every word out of his mouth was a noun, verb and metadata NSA. It was sad to watch. These truly are dark days in gathering reliable information.

    • Lady Willpower

      He also threw in a pathetic crack about MSNBC being a bunch of Obamabots, don’t forget.

      • repugnicant

        Watching O’Donnell defend Snowden last night, saying how heroic he was hiding out in Russia while showing video of the Pussy Riot girls marching straight into the face of authority and getting beaten, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, O’Donnell sounded just as crazy as the Greenwald cult, defending Snowden’s silence on Russia’s daily human rights violations because Snowden is afraid of getting kicked out… and he’s showing Pussy Riot taking on the system with NO FEAR! It was beyond stupid.

        Maybe Tiabbi wanted a permanent job at MSNBC and got rejected, and now has an ax to grind.

        • BumpIt McCarthy

          I only saw a portion of O’Donnell’s piece, but it seemed to be loaded with irony. My commie husband had nothing to say as Lawrence showcased Snowden’s daft, ignorant salute to Russia’s love for human rights.

          Yes, gentle readers, for once peace reigned Chez BumpIt. Thanks Larry O.

      • Rob

        So are you saying that MSNBC isn’t “a bunch of Obamabots”? You are aware that Media Matters writes the talking points and stories for said network, right? They’re basically writing that network’s primetime line up.

        • Lady Willpower

          Correct. That is what I’m saying. The network as a whole certainly leans left, but they don’t have that same “marching orders” feel that Fox has.

        • merl1

          I wasn’t aware of that. Sounds like something you just made up to prove whatever the hell you’re trying to prove.

    • Trulyunbelievable2020

      Reminds me of Woodward and Bernstein during the Watergate scandal. Every sentence was “noun+verb+burglary.” It was really pathetic. It was like these guys thought that just because they were intensively working on a story that people would somehow expect them to talk about that story. So bizarre.

      • repugnicant

        And now we have a bunch of Leftists being led around by the nose by Libertarians, fixating their craniums deep within their anal orifices, too ashamed to come up for air..

        • villemar

          Well it is clear that Trulyunbelievable is no more on the left side of the equation than I am the King of Siam.

      • ChrisAndersen

        Woodstein had a really great editor in Ben Bradlee. He rejected a lot of their work before it ever saw the light of day. He forced them to do better.

        That’s the job of a good editor.

    • nevilleross

      This bullshit meme is also infecting Canada as well (sorry, can’t find the link).

  • Lady Willpower

    Maybe Taibbi can pull them up to his level of journalism? I’m looking for the silver lining here. If he gets dragged down to their level I’ll be very disappointed.

  • Gunnut2600

    This pearl clutching….where was it when Matt and Mark ran The Exile?

  • kfreed

    “Pierre Omidyar’s $250-million venture”

    Co-opted to the dark side:

    Mark Ames: “Seriously folks, CJR really, really wants you to know that Omidyar is a breed apart: nothing like the Randian Silicon Valley libertarian we’ve become used to seeing”

    Read on, this is sure to make any progressive’s stomach turn:

    Meanwhile, Libertarian Peter Theil is financing Pando Daily (for which Greenwald’s parrot David Sirota writes) thanks to a deal in which Pando bought up NSFWCorp’s online news site where Mark Ames also writes: “Paul Carr’s news site NSFW Corp joins with Silicon Valley-backed PandoDaily”

    Why do I get the feeling Mark Ames will soon be looking for work elsewhere?

    Speaking of douchebag Libertarian Glenn Greenwald of Koch-funded Cato Institute, today I received an email from my Senator, Mark Udall, re: the Glenn Greenwald inspired NSA hysteria which resulted in the USA Freedom Act, requesting that I sign on as a constituent “co-sponsor.” Frankly I’ve had enough of this Libertarian crap, so being a nobody constituent, I wrote to Senator Udall. Call me crazy:

    February 20, 2014

    Re: USA Freedom Act

    Dear Senator Udall,

    Do you know who’s behind the NSA hysteria?

    The very same Libertarian Koch-funded “think tanks” responsible for writing the legal justifications for the Patriot Act and warrantless wiretapping under George W. Bush are now generating faux outrage over the framework they themselves created prior to the establishment of the FISA court:

    “Found: Libertarians ‘Lying to Liberals’ Guide Book”

    Journalist Mark Ames: “something to keep in mind if you find yourself getting all dewy-eyed as you take your place on the bottom of the “strange bedfellows” at the [NSA] rally, topped by such rancid libertarian outfits as FreedomWorks, the Kochs’ climate denial front Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Kochs’ new
    anti-Obamacare Astroturf front Generation Opportunity, Students For Liberty (funded by CIA/NSA contractor Peter Thiel), Ron Paul’s Young Americans For Liberty, the Libertarian Party…”

    Not in the letter, but: [Note: “Reminder: Peter Thiel Is Ted Cruz’s Gay Billionaire Ally”:

    And when I say “crackpot Ted Cruz” I am not employing hyperbole. We can certainly do without THIS level of Tea Party insanity in government:

    Yes, the very same Libertarians responsible for this:

    Mark Ames, The Nation: “Independent and Principled? Behind the Cato Myth”

    “Fact: The Cato Institute’s actual record during the
    Bush administration years was anything but principled and far from heroic.

    John Yoo, author of the notorious “torture memo,” served on the Cato editorial board for Cato Supreme Court Review during the Bush presidency. At the same time, Yoo was writing the Bush administration’s legal justifications for waterboarding, Guantánamo, warrantless wiretapping and more. Yoo also contributed articles to Cato Supreme Court Review and a chapter to a Cato book titled The Rule of Law in the Wake of Clinton criticizing President Clinton’s “imperial presidency”…

    Another Cato Institute executive, Roger Pilon, vigorously supported Bush’s attacks on civil liberties. Pilon, Cato’s VP for legal affairs and founding director of the Cato Institute’s “Center for Constitutional Studies,” supported expanded FBI wiretapping in 2002 and called on Congress to reauthorize the Patriot Act as late as 2008.”

    And all of this hysteria is based on the consistent misreporting of Libertarian Glenn
    Greenwald of Koch-funded Cato Institute:

    The motivation for which Glenn Greenwald clearly expressed in public:

    Joy-Ann Reid, Miami Herald columnist: “Re-rise of the Naderites: Glenn Greenwald’s third party dreamin’ **UPDATE: on Libertarianism”

    “At a talk given the day after the 2010 election — one that was a disaster for Democrats — “progressive” writer and civil liberties lawyer Glenn Greenwald gave a talk at
    the University of Wisconsin, and expressed the hope that Democrats might suffer
    the same fate in 2012.

    Greenwald’s speech mainly focused on civil liberties and terrorism policy “in the age of Obama.” But it was his approach to politics that got members of the Young Americans for Liberty — a Paulite Libertarian group that co-sponsored the event — excited:

    ‘The speech was stellar with too many good points to touch on in a single blog post. I would like to point out that in the Q&A at 38:00 Greenwald specifically addresses
    a possible alliance between progressives and Ron Paul libertarians. He also mentions Gary Johnson as a unique candidate with possibly the best chance of bringing this coalition together in a 2012 run for president.'”

    Therefore, NO, I will not “co-sponsor,” nor will I participate in any way, in a Tea Party inspired political stunt designed to undermine President Obama and the people’s faith in government under this administration.

    Glenn Greenwald has consistently misreported issues surrounding the NDAA, drones, the NSA, Citizens United, failure to close Guantanamo Bay (the list is as long as my arm) while holding Tea Party lunatics Ron and Rand Paul up (remember the #StandWithRand fiasco?) as America’s principled saviors and relentlessly attacking every single progressive, journalist, and pundit of note for their refusal to join him in his vendetta against President Obama.

    As a Democrat, I voted for this president, proudly, twice and I am thoroughly disgusted with the obstructionist antics of the far right. This is yet another faux scandal generated by the Koch network, not unlike those generated by Rep. Darrell Issa for political reasons.

    I am sick at heart over the ease with which the left is consistently drawn into fake scandals generated by the Tea Party. Enough already.

    Senator Udall, I am also perfectly aware that the tea partying Kochs have you in their sights, according to the senator’s own fundraising emails . I would suggest you not assist them in furthering their aims. Joining them in the NSA fear-mongering will not insure you against their attacks:

    October 2010, Lee Fang, Think Progress: [Leaked] “MEMO: Health Insurance, Banking, Oil Industries Met With Koch, Chamber, Glenn Beck To Plot 2010 Election”

    You could instead be of service to your constituents in familiarizing yourself with the tactics of the far right and speaking out against it:

    Paul Weyrich’s “Teaching Manual,” The Integration of Theory and Practice: A Program for the New Traditionalist Movement by Eric Heubeck is attached. I highly suggest you
    thoroughly read it. Note in particular the enlistment of Libertarians:

    Who is Paul Weyrich?
    Paul “I don’t Want Everybody to Vote” Weyrich, video courtesy Right Wing

    “’I Don’t Want Everybody to Vote’ – The Roots of GOP Voter Suppression”:

    “Paul Michael Weyrich (October 7, 1942 – December 18, 2008)[1][2][3][4] was an American religious conservative political activist and commentator, most notable as a figurehead of the New Right. He co-founded the conservative think tanks, the Heritage Foundation,[5] the Free Congress Foundation, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). He coined the term “moral majority”, the name of the political action group Moral Majority that he co-founded in 1979 with Jerry Falwell.”

    All of the above also happen to be funded by the Koch brothers. Please have a look at the far right’s proposed model legislation:

    ALEC Exposed (Center for Media and Democracy):



    Maybe I’ll out-crazy myself and send a copy to the rest of the Democratic co-sponsors of the USA Freedom Act. Meanwhile, wouldn’t it be nice if somebody who is not a nobody constituent paid attention to this stuff?:

    “Silicon Valley-Funded ‘United in Purpose’ Prepare to Rock the [Tea Party] Conservative Christian Vote”

    “The Googlization of the Far Right: Why is Google Funding Grover Norquist, Heritage Action and ALEC?”

    “Why Libertarians Play the Clowns in the Circus Show Called the Republican Party – Having the Christian Right and neo-Confederates as your ideological partners should be cause for worry”

    “The Christian Right is seizing control of state legislatures and governors’ mansions while we laugh at Ted Cruz”

    • Trulyunbelievable2020

      And Udall presumably spent the rest of the day reading all of your links.

      • kfreed

        I doubt it. His staff will be tasked with that chore. And just to be sure, I have an appointment down at the local office next week.

        Meanhile, instead of griping about the number of links, you could be reading them in order to get a handle on who/what it is you’re supporting.

        • Trulyunbelievable2020

          Hahaha. Yes, I’m sure his staffers spent the rest of the afternoon just poring over this information.

          • kfreed

            Again, I doubt it. Perhaps the snail mail version will get their attention:) If not, there will be no ignoring it when I show up in person with the laptop in hand.

            If all that is too much for you to digest, maybe you’d like to peruse the following over at Enclyclopedia Britannica:

            “The Teavangelicals: Year In Review 2013”

            Unfortunate though it is for you whackjobs, the jig is up. You can thank Ted Cruz for that:

          • Trulyunbelievable2020

            I don’t really know what the Ted Cruz link has to do with the NSA, unless you think that everyone who is concerned about bulk collection and other NSA practices loves Ted Cruz.

            But I guess a massive file of links about right-wingers and libertarians is a lot like a hammer… everything looks like a nail.

          • kfreed

            Well, if you were to actually read my original comment you’d know what the Ted Cruz link has to do with the NSA:

            Libertarian/Christian Reconstruction alliance under the Tea Party banner:

            Here you go, the Washinton Times should appeal to you:)
            “How the Religious Right and the Libertarians buried the hatchet”

          • Trulyunbelievable2020

            Do you really think that writing endless posts, each filled with endless lists of links that merely purport to show that some person once worked/said something nice about some other person who is a libertarian and/or that some right wingers and some libertarians have forged strategic alliances is an effective way to make your point?

            Do you think that anyone in Congress or their staff is going to be at all surprised by these chains of associations that aim to suggest that anyone who criticizes the President on his civil liberties record is nothing more than a rabid, closeted right-wing free market libertarian?

            Do you know what you remind me of? Stupid right-wingers who try to paint Planned Parenthood as some sort of Nazi organization by pointing out that Margaret Sanger supported eugenics… just like Hitler! It’s so intellectually vapid and unconvincing.

          • kfreed

            And which libertarians are behind the NSA hysteria? The same ones responsible for backing Ted Cruz:

            “something to keep in mind if you find yourself getting all dewy-eyed as you take your place on the bottom of the “strange bedfellows” at the rally, topped by such rancid libertarian outfits as FreedomWorks, the Kochs’ climate denial front Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Kochs’ new anti-Obamacare Astroturf front Generation Opportunity, Students For Liberty (funded by CIA/NSA contractor Peter Thiel), Ron Paul’s Young Americans For Liberty, the Libertarian Party…”

          • Trulyunbelievable2020

            Your point– that certain liberals (Ron Wyden, for example), certain conservatives (e.g. Jim Sensenbrenner), and certain libertarians (e.g. Rand Paul) are working together on certain issues on which they share common ground without fully endorsing each others’ respective political ideologies– is, of course, true. Anyone who is paying attention knows that. I don’t understand why you always phrase it as some sort of breathless revelation.

            The fact of the matter is that there’s a great deal of discontent with the politics of partisan loyalty. It’s absolutely natural that this has led to temporary, ad-hoc alliances between people who would normally not associate with one another.

            The question is this: how should liberals respond to this? In my view, the correct response would be to work to reform the party so that it’s responsive to the concerns of its traditional constituencies. Concern for civil liberties has traditionally been a liberal value. When you outright mock those who are concerned about civil liberties, you drive them away from the Democratic Party. In your view, as far as I can tell, the correct response is to aggressively accuse liberals who work with libertarians of apostasy. I can’t see how that’s going to work out well for you.

          • kfreed

            “Your point– that certain liberals (Ron Wyden, for example), certain conservatives (e.g. Jim Sensenbrenner), and certain libertarians (e.g. Rand Paul) are working together on certain issues on which they share common ground without fully endorsing each others’ respective political ideologies”

            That’s not my point. Obviously:)

          • Trulyunbelievable2020

            Mind telling me what your point is, then? And, if possible, could you try to do that succinctly in your own words without burying me in an avalanche of links? Then maybe we could have a slightly more productive conversation.

          • kfreed

            Read the original comment:)

          • Trulyunbelievable2020

            Ok, amidst an avalanche of links about how bad the right wing is (a position with which I agree), I see that you argue that this is a “faux scandal.”

            I respectfully disagree. When a powerful government agency secretly interprets the law to mean something that the average citizen would never assume it meant (i.e. “information relevant to an authorized investigation” means “all information”) and then keeps that from the public, I think that’s scandalous.

            James Clapper has recently said that the NSA should have come clean about bulk collection after 9/11. He assumed that the public would have understood the necessity of such programs if we’d had a public debate.

            Here’s the problem: we pretty much did have this public debate. It concerned the Total Information Awareness program, the goals of which are very, very close to those of the current system. Remember what happened? Surveillance advocates lost.

            How did they react? They implemented pretty much the same program in secret.

            From my perspective, that’s scandalous.

          • kfreed

            We’ve already had that discussion. Adios:)

          • Trulyunbelievable2020

            Oh, you don’t actually want to discuss any of the issues with someone who doesn’t accept your premise that this is a “faux scandal” cooked up by the Koch brothers?

            Ok, I’m not surprised.

          • kfreed

            We’ve already had that discussion… in fact, very recently, so I imagine you remember it:) No, I don’t feel like having the same discussion over and over again with the same mentally challenged wingnut:) But thanks for the offer.

            Meanwhile, I’d like to direct you back to my original comment.

          • Trulyunbelievable2020

            A plurality of Democrats oppose bulk collection. The party must be in a pretty shitty state if almost half of their members are “wingnuts.” Have a nice night, and good luck with your meeting. I’m sure that they won’t treat the guy who comes with an armload of printed out articles as a “wingnut.” I’m sure you’ll make a lot of headway.

          • Barbara Striden

            This entire discussion is irrelevant unless it’s conducted within a National Security context. People talk out of both sides of their mouths in this area. On the one hand, they expect the government to “connect the dots” in ways that will prevent a repetition of the types of attacks that occurred on 9/11/01. On the other, they want their privacy. If you aren’t willing to confront the tension that exists between these two concepts, you’re just engaging in useless moral vanity.

          • repugnicant

            LoL. Man, I’m really enjoying your ‘life is so simple’ posts. It adds that certain nuttiness that fuses the Tea Party to The Power Point Brigade.

            As far as Wyden and Paul, Wyden refuses to make any statement on the fate of Snowden, while Paul says Snowden should go to jail. I’ll Greenwaldian assume that you agree.

          • Norbrook

            Key phrase: “work to reform the party.” Helps if you actually get involved in the party, which most “liberals” who scream their head off on the internet about civil liberties never do. Mostly, they sit around and clog up bandwidth whining about how the party should do something. Instead of getting out from behind the keyboard and doing it themselves.

          • David Atkins

            Bingo! It’s hard to avoid noticing that many of the folks now screaming NSA SPYING IS THE WORST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED OH WOE IS US! are the same folks who in the not distant past have been screaming NOT A DIME’S WORTH OF DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO CORPORATIST PARTIES and throwing elections by wasting their votes on third party vanity candidates while the rest of us have been trying to influence policy in a positive direction. Way to help out, boys and girls.

          • kfreed

            Oh please, in no way, shape, or form are you a progressive… so don’t even try it.

            Obviously, my endless posts get under your skin something fierce, so for that reason alone, assuming annoying the hell out of you were the reason, it would still be so worth it:)

          • Trulyunbelievable2020

            I suppose it depends on how you define “Progressive.” What I do know is that I’ve voted for some Democrats and that I’ve never voted for a Republican or a Libertarian candidate. More often, though, I’ve stayed home. I suppose that you’re more interested in enforcing ideological purism and smearing anyone who disagrees with the current party line as a closeted right-winger than you are in getting folks like me to actually vote for Democrats. Seems like a really stupid strategy to me.

          • nevilleross

            How hard is it for you to realize that you’re being ratfucked by Greenwald, Snowden & Paul?

          • nevilleross

            Hey dumbfuck, instead of being dismissive, why not read the links posted? Or are you afraid that your worldview will die?

          • nevilleross

            Forget telling this moron what you’ve collected, they don’t care.

          • kfreed

            C.J. Werleman, atheist author of “Crucifying America” makes it all quite clear:
            “Why Libertarians Play the Clowns in the Circus Show Called the Republican Party – Having the Christian Right and neo-Confederates as your ideological partners should be cause for worry”


          • kfreed

            Oh and P.S…. The Tea Party face of the anti-NSA (make that anti-Obama) hysteria, Rand Paul of #StandWithRand fame, also makes an appearance in that Ted Cruz video:) – being prayed over by Dominionist pastors, no less… but I guess you didn’t watch it, did you?

          • kfreed

            BTW, douchenozzle, since you’re so concerned about “civil liberties” and all, how much you want to bet we don’t hear a peep from Glenn Greenwald or any other libertarian douchebag about this. Don’t worry about clicking the links, read the headlines:

            “Religious Freedom to Discriminate” legislation cropping up nationwide in Tea Party controlled state legislatures:

            The Nation: “When Does Religious Freedom Mean Freedom to Discriminate?”

            Let us examine the evidence… (followed by issue brief PDF).

            1) “Pennsylvania Republican celebrates MLK Day with proposal to legalize discrimination”

            “A Republican lawmaker in Pennsylvania is seeking to
            invalidate the state’s nondiscrimination law by adding a faith based amendment that would allow discrimination for religious reasons.

   wrote that under Denlinger’s proposed Freedom of Conscience Amendment, “employers, store owners, realtors, motel managers, etc., could deny jobs, groceries, homes or rooms to anyone (tall, short, pregnant, Catholic, Jewish, gay, Goth, Democrat, newspaper columnist)
            offending their beliefs. Just as long as those beliefs are ‘sincerely held.’”

            2) “House panel approves bill that shields Kansans who refuse to serve same-sex couples on religious grounds”

            “TOPEKA — The Kansas House will move forward with a bill that would give government employees the right to refuse service to same-sex couples on the
            basis of their religious beliefs. Republican supporters of House Bill 2453 say the bill concerns religious

            3) “Oklahoma restaurant won’t serve ‘freaks,’ ‘f*ggots,’ the disabled and welfare recipients”

            “The restaurant’s official t-shirt makes it clear that a
            “f*ggot” isn’t welcome in James’s establishment. It features that word, the N-word, and threatens violence against Muslims, Democrats, and members of many
            minority groups.”

            4) “Today, the Huffington Post tracks a few seemingly thorny cases that pit individual religious liberty—that is to say, the liberty to discriminate—against anti-discrimination laws. All these cases follow the same pattern: A private business refuses to render services to a gay couple or group, then finds itself slapped with a lawsuit. The business pleads religious liberty. The Christian
            right is outraged…

            5) “House panel keeps religious freedom bill alive”

            “BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho’s Capitol on Wednesday was again the focus of frustration among gay rights activists as lawmakers kept alive a bill that Republican religious conservatives argue is necessary to protect businesses from being forced to serve customers whose lifestyles offend their faith traditions.”

            6) “Arizona GOP Advances Wide-Sweeping Religious License To Discriminate Against Gays Bill”

            “As The New Civil Rights Movement reported last year, the
            bill could also be considered the religious version of a “Stand Your Ground” law, allowing anyone’s practice or observance of religion to be an automatic “out.” In other
            words, it would give Arizona residents and businesses the
            right to refuse service to anyone for any reason, including because they are LGBT.”

            “Arizona Senate OKs bill boosting service refusal”

            7) Utah: “Religious freedom and anti-bias bills announced at pro-traditional marriage gathering”

            “Ladies and gentlemen, do not allow the loss of
            religious liberty to be the inevitable inheritance you pass onto your children and their children because you would not sacrifice for their freedoms of religion and religious conscience,” Reid said. In a few celebrated cases
            involving wedding services, courts have ruled against a New Mexico wedding photographer and bakers in Oregon and Colorado who claimed their faith prohibited them from accommodating a gay marriage.

            Reid said his Religious Liberties bill would allow an individual to deny services in those situations based on religious beliefs.”

            8) “Gay-marriage debate takes new twist in Oregon: religious exemption”

            “The ballot initiatives set up what some activists have said is the next frontier in the marriage debate – as more states move to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples, those who object on religious grounds want a legal right to opt

            9) Koch-funded Heritage Foundation pushing bogus scandals to justify “Religious Freedom” to discriminate legislation:

            10) Center for American Progress: Religious Liberty for Some or Religious Liberty for All?”

            “The states, in particular, have become a focus of policy
            battles involving progressive initiatives and religious liberty in recent years. Recent victories on marriage equality, for instance, have triggered a conservative backlash that
            is using religious liberty as a cover to push back against these victories and turn back the clock. The truth is that
            religious liberty is not in conflict with marriage equality or with women’s reproductive rights. But opponents are
            claiming a conflict in an attempt to gain public sympathy and support for what would otherwise be unpopular

            This issue brief focuses on the recent history of the
            religious liberty debate, the current state of play in states across the country, and the threat to progressive values and accomplishments posed by exceedingly broad religious liberty exemptions that open the door to discrimination.”

            “Nullification of the federal government is now the weapon of choice for theocrats, libertarians and white supremacists. Since 2010, state legislatures have put forward nearly 200 bills challenging federal laws its sponsors deem unconstitutional. Typically, laws the nullifiers believe challenge “religious liberty…”

          • David Atkins

            The principle civil liberty that concerns these clowns is their inalienable right to masturbate without government observation or interference. Corporate spying? The more the merrier!

            Everything else is a footnote.

          • kfreed

            LOL. That… and… (cross-posting this from another DB article):

            “The Koch brothers want you to hack for freedom”

            “The goal of the hackathon: ‘promoting liberty with the
            use of technology … Whether promoting individual privacy or protecting economic freedom, this event will be the first of its kind to hack on various sources of data for a chance towin $5000 in cash.”

            “Perhaps burned by the uproar among his work
            colleagues, the organizer of the hackathon, StumbleUpon engineer Aaron Ginn (a veteran of the Romney campaign), was careful not to mention some of the more inflammatory
            political causes pushed by the Koch brothers, such as their
            intense opposition to climate change activism, when he was
            interviewed by NPR.

            Instead, Ginn mentioned “immigration reform, and protecting your data from the NSA.”

            The Libertarian idea of “economic freedom” (besides privatization and deregulation):

            Bitcoin online drug cartel, money laundering, illegal gun
            sales, tax evasion, and more, using the anonymous Tor network:

            Ever since the feds busted up their Libertarian online crack
            house, the “NSAAAAAA!” squeals can be heard from miles away:

            You know what else Tor is used for? Ask Target:

            So, it’s kind of a “Eureka!” moment when you realize why the Koch cartel (whose Cato asshats are responsible for the Patriot Act) and the NRA (gun rights = the right to overthrow a “tyrannical government” and “Stand Your Ground”) are suddenly “concerned” about our “privacy rights” and are thus throwing their full support behind the (anti-NSA) USA Freedom Act (besides using it as a Rand Paul fundraiser and GOTV drive):

            “Advocacy groups such as the American Civil Liberties
            Union, the National Rifle Association and privacy-rights group [Koch-sponsored] Stop Watching Us have all pledged their support for the legislation.”

            Bonus: in case anyone was worried that the virtual
            Libertarian Utopia, Silk Road, is kaput, three more online drug cartels have sprung up to take its place:

            “Sheep Marketplace”… now that there is funny,
            don’t care who ya are:

            And here’s where the Paulite Snowdens of the world fit into
            the grand Libertarian scheme:

            “Dread Pirate Roberts 2.0: An interview with Silk Road’s new boss – New leader wants Silk Road to publish gov’t secrets”

            “Freeedoooommmm!” ROFL. Yeah, right. It turns out that the Internets are good for finding out shit, too:) Namely, that Libertarians are insane and I wouldn’t trust them as far as I can throw them on ANY issue, especially not this one.

      • giantslor

        Forget the links, it took me all day just to read the damn comment.

      • neonnautilus

        I think Udall is a good person, but an ineffectual legislator. I would choose him over Buck any day and even over Bennet, whose policy positions on many issues I dislike intensely. Udall is well meaning. Bennet is a corporate tool. He’s a neoliberal of the first stripe and just a hair removed from being a republican.

        And I keep looking for the place where I said Udall was insane, but can’t find it.

    • neonnautilus

      Ahhhh – Senator Udall – he has originated/cowritten/cosponsored only two bills that I’m aware of other than his nsa nonsense: one to make safer shooting ranges and one to require a balanced federal budget. Yes this guy has a D by his name (but has to represent all the people of CO he wrote one time in answer to one of my emails). The saddest part of it is that he is only marginally less effective than every other D in congress.

      • kfreed

        Udall isn’t insane. His challenger, tea partying Koch whore Ken “No Such Thing As Church State Separation” Buck, is certifiable. So, while I disagree with Senator Udall in regard to hopping on board the NSA hystera bandwagon, he’s a decent representative and we aim to keep him.

  • trgahan

    Also fan of Taibbi…very interested to see how this plays out. It does make me wonder, has any established journalist/media personality left a strong traditional media platform and maintained their “success” (for lack of a better term)? I am a total outsider, but it seems having “Rolling Stone” on your business card would carry more weight when doing journalism versus some, currently, unknown up and comer.

    In my own industry, I know plenty of people who make similar bold moves and have found doors that previously swung open (and they thought would stay open) suddenly locked tight with an angry looking bouncer back staring at them.

    • repugnicant

      My first thoughts, too. Tiabbi may find firewalls popping up all over the place, something he’s not accustomed to .

    • MrDHalen

      I second this “doors that previously swung open, suddenly locked tight.”. Reporting for Rolling Stone magazine is an awesome card to handout. People on the inside will probably be less incline to share the details of the underworlds out there.

      I really like a lot of what Taibbi has written over the years, but I have this sick feeling he’s done and now wants to cash in. Can you really blame him? Think about it. You fight tooth and nail to get the gate open for the animals waiting for slaughter only to watch them stand there and go back to eating out of bins.

    • Michael West

      “has any established journalist/media personality left a strong traditional media platform and maintained their “success” (for lack of a better term)?”

      My only thought on this one is Howard Stern leaving terrestrial radio and becoming a satellite juggernaut. But that’s very different: Stern was the big, prestige brand in that case. Taibbi’s not the brand here, Rolling Stone is. All of this is a case of people overestimating the drawing power of their own names. (Notice, when other media outlets give credit for the Snowden stories, it’s always credited to The Guardian, not Greenwald. Even people following this story don’t necessarily know who Glenn Greenwald is.)

      • Norbrook

        The difference being that the person was the brand. Stern had a huge audience which had followed him to his various outlets, so moving from one medium to another wasn’t a huge deal in that respect. Whereas Taibbi’s “brand” is “reporter for the Rolling Stone,” and without the “Rolling Stone,” he has to not only enhance his personal brand, he also has to build his outlet’s brand.


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